The most recommended books about toys

Who picked these books? Meet our 36 experts.

36 authors created a book list connected to toys, and here are their favorite toy books.
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Book cover of Bunny Party

Nancy Shaw Author Of Sheep Trick or Treat

From my list on picture books about foolishness.

Who am I?

I’m the author of Raccoon Tune, Elena’s Story, and eight books about goofy sheep. My family didn’t get a TV until I was nine, so I used the library for entertainment. I liked all kinds of books. I’m still a voracious reader and I’m fascinated by the nuances of words. My kids loved silly books--especially where someone ignores the obvious--and so does my granddaughter. I also grew up playing with words. Once, on a car trip, I started rhyming about sheep driving a jeep, and even a preschooler knows you shouldn’t forget to steer. I think that seeing foolish characters in stories helps kids make sense of the world.

Nancy's book list on picture books about foolishness

Nancy Shaw Why did Nancy love this book?

Bossy, responsible Ruby is planning Grandma’s birthday party, and as usual, little brother Max has his own ideas. Ruby has invited her dolls to the party, but Max places his favorites—like the Ear-Splitter Space Cadetat the table, swiping costume bits off Ruby’s dolls to disguise the imposters. Ruby is confused by the extra guests: “It must be a bad counting day. We need another chair.” Young readers will see what’s really happening—and Max’s facial expressions emphasize what he’s up to. What will Grandma think of the unusual guests?

By Rosemary Wells,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bunny Party as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Excellent Book


Book cover of You Are Special: Volume 1

MelindaJoy Mingo Author Of The Colors of Culture: The Beauty of Diverse Friendships

From my list on capturing how we learn to celebrate diversity.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by different cultures since I was 14 years old growing up in inner-city Chicago. My passion has given me a curious quest to travel the world and learn about different cultures. My friends have a tagline for me which is ‘From the Hood to Hanoi and All the Stops In Between’ because of my international teaching in Vietnam. As an adult who is now an international professor, sought-out global trainer, and cultural subject matter expert, my passion has increased for bringing an awareness to a broader audience about the beauty of diverse friendships. 

MelindaJoy's book list on capturing how we learn to celebrate diversity

MelindaJoy Mingo Why did MelindaJoy love this book?

I recommend this children’s book because the theme of learning how to value yourself is relevant for not only young people but also adults.

This great fictional story centered in a tiny city where people spend the day putting either dots or stars on each other depending on what they or don’t like about the person.

There is one fictional character who doesn’t allow anything to stick on her because she knows her own value and worth.

By Max Lucado,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Are Special as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Follow the young Wemmick Punchinello as he discovers the source of his worth-his Creator. This beautifully illustrated tale communicates to children that God loves them regardless of how the world evaluates them. The first in Max Lucado's Wemmicks series.


Book cover of Playing with History: American Identities and Children's Consumer Culture

Janet Golden Author Of Babies Made Us Modern: How Infants Brought America Into the Twentieth Century

From my list on American children and history.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing, speaking, blogging, and tweeting about the history of American children and their childhoods for many decades. When I went to school—a long time ago—the subject did not come up, nor did I learn much in college or graduate school. I went out and dug up the story as did many of the authors I list here. I read many novels and autobiographies featuring childhood, and I looked at family portraits in museums with new eyes. Childhood history is fascinating and it is a lot of fun. And too, it is a great subject for book groups.

Janet's book list on American children and history

Janet Golden Why did Janet love this book?

Toys! Dolls! Amusement Parks! They aren’t just playthings and play places; they are part of our national character and our consumer culture, as well as our private objects and experiences. Childhood is manufactured—created in our homes, communities, schools, and yes, by play. This book has a lot to say about our history but it is also a fun reminder of the things many of us grew up with or wish we had. It just might have you rooting through your attic or old photo books.

By Molly Rosner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Playing with History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since the advent of the American toy industry, children’s cultural products have attempted to teach and sell ideas of American identity. By examining cultural products geared towards teaching children American history, Playing With History highlights the changes and constancies in depictions of the American story and ideals of citizenship over the last one hundred years. This book examines political and ideological messages sold to children throughout the twentieth century, tracing the messages conveyed by racist toy banks, early governmental interventions meant to protect the toy industry, influences and pressures surrounding Cold War stories of the western frontier, the fractures visible…


Book cover of When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children

Ellen Leventhal Author Of A Flood of Kindness

From my list on the healing power of kindness.

Who am I?

I am a teacher, writer, mother, and grandmother who sees the debilitating effects of meanness and the healing effects of kindness daily. In case that isn’t reason enough for writing A Flood of Kindness, I’m also what some call “A Floodie.” Like my character’s home flooded, so did mine. As devastating as it was, the kindness of others was overwhelming. I spent time with children whose homes also flooded. Aside from losing material things, it is easy to feel powerless. Like myself, I found that the children began their healing when they were able to give back, even in very small ways. I knew this had to be my book. 

Ellen's book list on the healing power of kindness

Ellen Leventhal Why did Ellen love this book?

Janie Reinart’s lyrical telling of this story, coupled with Morgan Taylor’s beautiful illustrations, takes the reader on a ride filled with love and emotion. It’s about refugee children who have, as the author says, “nothing but dreams.” Big Sister wants Little Sister to be happy, so she decides she can create something from nothing. She makes amazing things, but they don’t last. However, when Big Sister makes a mud doll, the two sisters play together, create other mud dolls, and continue to dreamWhat affected me the most as I read this is that this book is based on a real refugee camp, and proceeds are donated to UNICEF where our collective kindness can have the power to heal. 

By Janie Reinart, Morgan Taylor (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Water Makes Mud as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

When war forces two sisters to flee their home in South Sudan with nothing but the clothes they are wearing, Big Sister strives to help Little Sister smile again at the refugee settlement. But as quickly as Little Sister's smile appears, it disappears: that is until water makes mud. In the end, Big Sister's artistry and kindness brings hope to their situation.

This title is a tribute to the resourcefulness of children who have no toys, but continue to play and is dedicated to the 200,000 refugee children living at the Bidibidi settlement in Uganda.


Book cover of The Dark Unwinding

Laurel Wanrow Author Of The Unraveling

From my list on determined heroines who won’t be crossed.

Who am I?

I grew up camping and hiking, and spent my career teaching others about nature. I feel my best in the outdoors. Nature connections thread through my stories, to the point my kids joke my heroines are all geeky me. Well, true…or the geek I wish I was: one with secret magic to protect our earth. Folks know nature needs help, but my volunteer group still runs into roadblocks putting in native plant gardens. While I—and my characters—fight for protecting wild spaces, I appreciate that everyone’s fight is different and my keeper stories are those with determined characters—IRL or on the page—who turn the tables to succeed.

Laurel's book list on determined heroines who won’t be crossed

Laurel Wanrow Why did Laurel love this book?

An orphan with no home or money of her own, Katharine is her aunt’s pawn, sent to do all her dirty work. As the story opens in 1852, it’s to undertake the unthinkable—have her child-like Uncle Tulman committed to an asylum. While this novel doesn’t employ ‘magic’, I love Victorian-era stories and this one had numerous intriguing threads: Katharine’s innocent, genius uncle created fantastical mechanical inventions, many characters to root for who didn’t quite ‘fit’ the society’s norms, and a maze of a house with mysterious, suspicious happenings. I could see no way for poor Katharine to save her uncle and his protective community, so the story twists thrilled me.

By Sharon Cameron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dark Unwinding as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

From the award-winning author of Rook comes a delicious and twisty tale, filled with spine-tingling intrigue, juicy romance, and dangerous family secrets.

When a rumor that her uncle is squandering away the family fortune surfaces, Katharine Tulman is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of childlike rules, who is employing a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London. Katharine becomes torn between protecting her own livelihood and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply…


Book cover of It's a Magical World: A Calvin and Hobbes Collection

Howard McWilliam Author Of Just SNOW Already!

From my list on illustrated stories packed full of snow.

Who am I?

I’ve loved snow for as long as I can remember: a childhood enthusiasm which has not dimmed one bit in adulthood. When those flakes flutter silently from the sky I feel a thrill just like an eight-year-old getting the day off school, a feeling that I try to convey in Just Snow Already! I adore snow scenes depicted in art and children’s illustrations when that magic is transferred to the page… and unlike the real thing, you can enjoy it with a hot drink and warm toes. 

Howard's book list on illustrated stories packed full of snow

Howard McWilliam Why did Howard love this book?

Like millions of others, I grieved when the magnificent Calvin & Hobbes cartoon strip came to an end. So, this last published collection was one to savour.

I loved how Bill Watterson would draw snowy scenes, bringing them to life with a few ragged strokes of India ink, and there are few better examples than the last strip he ever created, which closes this book.

“Everything familiar has disappeared! The world looks brand new!… It’s like having a big sheet of white paper to draw on!” declares Hobbes (that connection with an un-started picture’s potential is one reason I find snow so visually compelling).

“A day full of possibilities!” replies Calvin. “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…”

The final huge panel sees them launch into the expanse of white on their sled, whose tracks trace the topography with glorious minimalism: “… Let’s go exploring!”

What an end to ten…

By Bill Watterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It's a Magical World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

This collection of cartoons features Calvin and Hobbes . It shows Calvin-turned-firefly waking Hobbes with his flashlight glow; Spaceman Spiff rocketing through alien galaxies as he battles Dad-turned-Bug-Being; and Calvin's always inspired snowman art.


Book cover of Me... Jane

Brenda Z. Guiberson Author Of Into the Sea

From my list on that spark a lifetime of investigation.

Who am I?

I'm an award-winning, best-selling children’s author who writes about unexpected “wow” moments that stick with me. I look for books and articIes that take me on a deep journey into unknown environments. I aim for nonfiction that reads like a story with an emotional connection to new creatures with fascinating lifestyles. As a writer of dozens of books for children, I always learn much more that can go into each effort. Each book comes into a hazy focus after tons of research. The best “wow” details get woven into an incredible story full of surprise, joy, and admiration for those struggling to survive on our changing plant.  

Brenda's book list on that spark a lifetime of investigation

Brenda Z. Guiberson Why did Brenda love this book?

This book is about Jane Goodall, famous chimp researcher and United Nations Messenger of Peace. As a child, she shared her backyard “magical world of nature” with her stuffed chimp named Jubilee. The book Tarzan of the Apes expanded her passion into dreams of going to Africa to study animals. “Wow!” She did it, and her stick-to-it observations led to the discovery that chimpanzees make and use tools. As she protects wildlife she also helps people in wild places to get better food, water, and education. Her concerns for all creatures have inspired children around the world to take some action toward a better planet.  

By Patrick McDonnell,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Me... Jane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his characteristic heartwarming and minimalistic style, Patrick McDonnell tells the story of a young Jane Goodall and her special childhood toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. As the young Jane observes the natural world around her with wonder, she dreams of 'a life living with and helping all animals,' until one day she finds that her dream has come true.

One of the world's most inspiring women, Dr. Jane Goodall is a renowned humanitarian, conservationist, animal activist, environmentalist, and United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 1977 she founded the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), a global nonprofit organization that empowers people to…


Book cover of Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep!

Shanda McCloskey Author Of Doll-E 1.0

From my list on robots for kids.

Who am I?

My kid side loves robots and the possibilities they bring! My author side enjoys exploring what makes a reader “care” for a character that’s human, animal, and machine alike. And my parent side is ever interested in childhood with technology – the bad AND the good. Childhood today is very different from the childhood I experienced, but that doesn’t mean my experience was better, more correct, or even healthier. It’s just different! Kids today will remember their childhoods just as fondly as I remember mine. I aim to celebrate kids today and not to demonize the reality of their tech-infused world. I believe this list does just that!

Shanda's book list on robots for kids

Shanda McCloskey Why did Shanda love this book?

I love this rhyming bedtime picture book for all its kid-friendly robotic vocabulary and the beautiful art that is full of clever bits to discover over multiple reads. This book is one of my favorite picture books to gift at baby showers and young kids’ birthday parties. This book has it all – all the way to the sweet twist ending!

By Todd Tarpley, John Rocco (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A playful robot bedtime story, illustrated by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco!

Quiet at last. Not a peep. Three little robots are... BEEP! BEEP!

When his three rambunctious robots give every possible excuse not to go to sleep, what's a little boy to do? With a fun refrain that will have readers of all ages chanting along, here's a book that kids will be begging to read every night before bed.


Book cover of Toys

Jack Kelley Author Of Crystal and the Underlings: The future of humanity

From my list on that capture the not-so-distant future.

Who am I?

Ever since middle school, when our teacher promised that we would have flying cars in our lifetimes, I’ve had a keen interest in scientific and technological breakthroughs. And now, with the advancements in Artificial Intelligence and genetic engineering, my interest has only grown. I love technology, but my concern is that with the acceleration of AI, science is outpacing common sense. Are we creating our replacements? I hope you read my new novel: Crystal and the Underlings: the future of humanity, and discover what could happen when AI takes over!

Jack's book list on that capture the not-so-distant future

Jack Kelley Why did Jack love this book?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading James Patterson’s and Neil McMahon’s Toys.

Patterson doesn’t delve into science fiction often, but when he does, thought-provoking ideas are present that question the social consequences of those imaginary worlds. In Toys, Genetic Elites rule and ordinary humans being the subjugated class.

The Elite Agent of Change, Baker, thinks he’s an Elite only to learn that he’s an ordinary human. He searches for his true origins while being hunted by the very Elites he protected from ordinary humans.

This novel is even more compelling today than when was written due to the advancement of Artificial Intelligence and Genetic Engineering.

A plausible prophetic future for those willing to listen.

By James Patterson, Neil McMahon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Toys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

James Bond and Jason Bourne have just been topped! A battle for the world is set into unstoppable motion and Hays Baker is the only one who can save it. Hays Baker and his wife Lizbeth possess super-human strength, extraordinary intelligence, stunning looks, a sex life to die for, and two beautiful children. Of course they do--they're Elites, endowed at birth with the very best that the world can offer. The only problem in their perfect world: humans and their toys!The one with the most toys--diesThe top operative for the Agency of Change, Hays has just won the fiercest battle…


Book cover of I Don't Like Koala

Lisa Wheeler Author Of People Don't Bite People

From my list on picture books that are even better read aloud.

Who am I?

I'm an award-winning children's book author who loves everything about kid's books--including the smell! With over 50 books on bookstore shelves-- which have been read aloud hundreds of times all over the world-- I feel that I've become an expert on the subject.

Lisa's book list on picture books that are even better read aloud

Lisa Wheeler Why did Lisa love this book?

Koala is the most terrible! He has a terrible face. And terrible paws. And terrible eyes that follow you everywhere! If you love to make up voices, you will find that Adam's repeat of "I don't like Koala" is subversively fun. Unleash your inner naughty child! When Adam receives Koala as a gift, he thinks there can be nothing more terrifying. His parents don't understand and all attempts to ditch this crazy stuff toy come to nothing. And then one night, Adam worries there might be something even more terrible than Koala. This one is absolutely brilliant as a read-aloud.

By Sean Ferrell, Charles Santoso (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Don't Like Koala as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Adam does not like Koala. Koala is a little creepy.

Adam tries explaining this to his parents. He tries putting Koala away-far away. He tries taking Koala on a long, long walk. Nothing works. Will Adam ever be rid of Koala?

This darkly funny debut picture book from Sean Ferrell and Charles Santoso celebrates imagination and bravery while addressing a universal childhood dilemma: what to do about that one stuffed animal who just won't stop staring at you.